Even if you didn’t have an online presence before 2020, I’m willing to bet that you have one now.
All of us have been online a lot more than we’re used to because of quarantine. In order to feel that connection, we all flocked to the internet to stay in touch with family and friends. In fact, screen time has increased by 20 to 30 percent on average since quarantine started back in March 2020, according to a study by Cambridge Open Engage.
However, what’s impressive is that some people have been able to start their own business during this unprecedented time.
For example, Carlos Gil and Reggie Williams created a line of (timely) masks under Outlaw Mask. At $30 per piece of stylish fabric, this duo became first on the scene to capitalize on the ever-increasing need for protective gear.
Also, the hospitality start-up Sonder pivoted quickly to focus on providing long-term stays especially for emergency healthcare workers,
Do you know how they did it? By building their personal brand— online.
How To Build a Reputation with Your Online Presence
Like it or not, if you’re online, you’ve already started building your presence. Every comment you make, post you share, or article you retweet speaks directly to your brand. If you plan on (or currently own) a business, these online actions can truly impact your ability to succeed.
Before we get into the next part, you might want to check your current social media accounts and delete anything that honestly makes you look bad. If you find yourself questioning one of your posts, I recommend deleting it.
This goes for pictures and captions as well. If it doesn’t speak to your brand’s integrity and professionalism, it needs to go right in the archive folder.
Do it now before someone screenshots it. But remember: everything on the internet is typically permanent.
The best thing you can do to ensure your brand’s integrity is to always stay on top of it. By being in control of your personal brand, you can push past any negatives (i.e. bad reviews) that might come your way.
And it all begins with your online presence. Here are 5 ways you can escalate the process and make the most of those online hours.
Step 1: Have a website
Now that you’ve cleaned up your existing profiles a little bit, let’s take a look at your most important platform— your personal brand website.
Do you have one? You should.
And no, not a website for your product or company. You, “Jane Smith,” let’s say, need to invest in janesmith.com and build your portfolio.
I want to say this: it’s perfectly acceptable to skip this step and create a personal brand social media account.
The more established you become in your industry, the more likely people will want to know about you, your journey, and your credibility. There’s only so much you can do on social media platforms. And even if you do have a moment where you are going viral, that 15-seconds will be up before you know it. Then, just like everybody else, you’ll be at the mercy of algorithms for people to find your brand.
So, if you’re looking to become an influencer or thought leader, you needed to build your website yesterday.
Here are a few things that should be on your website:
- Professional brand photography
- SEO blogs
- A freebie
- Email opt-in
You can see my complete personal brand website checklist here.
It’s just as important to be consistent on your website as it is to be consistent on your social media. Blogs or YouTube videos on your website not only impact your SEO ranking (making it easier for people to find you on Google), but it also speaks higher to your credibility than a Tweet or an Instagram caption.
Step 2: Decide on 1-3 social media platforms
There are so many social media platforms; it’s hard to know which one is the best.
The truth is, every social media platform works differently for every person. But just because your favorite content creator became successful on Instagram doesn’t mean that you will, too. I talk about this more in my blog on the top social media platforms, but your audience and your product can help you decide where you need to focus your online presence.
So what should you do? Pick out three social media platforms that you want to post to consistently. Make sure that one is your main priority. This helps remedy the inevitable burnout you’ll get from trying to be on every social media outlet.
After that, you’ll need to outline your social media content strategy. Your content should reflect your area of expertise. If you’re a CEO who has a CFO on your team, you don’t really need to post about how you conduct your company’s financials. Sure, you might understand it, and you probably give your CFO suggestions based on where you want your company to go.
But is it really your area of expertise?
Every great startup will build a team of people who all have various strengths. If you don’t know what yours is, ask your team. Are you the boss they go to for productivity tips? Are you the idea guy or gal?
If you’re a solopreneur, you can still play to your strengths. If you’re terrible with numbers, don’t try to convince people that you have the formula to help them make $10k in 3 months. Be authentic; this is your personal brand, after all.
Step 3: Create weekly video content
According to Hubspot, “54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.” There are limitless ways you can go about creating video content, but here’s my advice:
Be in the video.
You can easily get away with influencer reviews or client testimonial videos, but those won’t build the like, know, and trust in your company like you’re hoping it will.
A video with you explaining how you became the first business owner in your family or a video giving tips for your ideal client has the ability to cultivate the intimate bond between you and your audience. It’s that bond that ultimately leads them on their journey to indulge in your expertise, your product, or your service.
I know it’s intimidating, but it’s 2020, and the numbers have nothing to show except a swift incline when it comes to video content. Your customers demand videos from you, which means you need to supply them.
Although this tactic isn’t overly new, if you can be one of the few who successfully posts weekly video content, I promise you that you will see a spark in your online presence.
Step 4: Pitch to the press
The appeal to having an online presence is the idea of going viral and becoming an overnight success. Yes, it’s happened before, but you shouldn’t expect or anticipate it.
Despite what people say, you can’t guarantee viral content. There’s simply no formula that works for everyone. Eventually, the hype dies down, and people forget about the person (or the company).
Just look at Hollywood actors. It happens to them all the time. Now, when you initially become successful at building your brand awareness, you might have opportunities knocking down your door: investors, customers, press features— these are all possible just by you having a noteworthy online presence.
Where things go wrong is when you, again, expect these things. This typically happens you see momentary success and continue to expect the press and the online community to keep building your online persona. Don’t become complacent when these opportunities arise because, eventually, they’ll stop coming to you because you’re “old news.”
Don’t let that be the case.
Don’t become entitled, and don’t expect a viral post to last forever. If you don’t want to become a has-been (or worse, a never-was), keep your eyes peeled for ways to boost your online energy.
Pitching to the press is a great way to get new people to take interest in your personal brand. Don’t think that because the press isn’t coming to you that they aren’t interested. If you’re working on something big or have a slightly different perspective on something in your industry, pitch to the press and get that jumpstart to maintaining your digital visibility.
Step 5: Collaborate with competitors
It isn’t easy to always be on top of your online brand. From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s downright exhausting. But when you become bored with your own content, you can almost guarantee that your audience will feel the same way.
Somehow they just know.
What can you do to remedy this hindrance? Reach out to your competitors and ask to collaborate! If you automatically shun this idea, it’s probably because you see others in your industry as competition instead of your colleagues.
This can damage your online reputation.
I know it can be hard to collaborate with others in your industry; what if they steal your idea, what if they’re rude, or what if they deny the collaboration? Honestly, any of these things can happen. But they won’t be the end-all, be-all of your business. Shunning yourself away from others who can potentially help you grow your brand, however, is a quick way to see your online presence fall flat.
Collaborations work well for two reasons:
1. It takes the pressure off of you to come up with ideas
You can reach out to a fellow entrepreneur with a podcast or YouTube channel and pitch them a topic that you can both speak on. Usually, they’ll do the heavy lifting to schedule your collaboration, promote it, and edit the final version. Once it’s out, you’ve successfully been able to cut back on your brain work, and you’re in front of a whole new audience.
On the flip side, if you create a collaboration opportunity, it still saves you time and energy. You might have to do the leg work of reaching out and scheduling, but you can let your colleagues do all the talking. A couple of options for doing this type of collaboration is asking your network for guest blog posts, conducting a weekly guest live session, or having someone take over your Instagram Stories.
2. It exposes you to new audiences
Whether it’s the social media algorithm or SEO strategies, your online presence is at the mercy of some outside factor that we can’t control. We all hit a roadblock in terms of growth for our personal brand. Sometimes collaborating is the only way to fix it.
A guest blog post, an interview, or a guest spot on a podcast or YouTube channel are all saving graces for brands who are struggling to build their online reputation. So don’t take these opportunities for granted.
Always say yes, and actively look and pitch collaborations to leaders in your industry.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for your personal brand is to manage your online appearances. That means having a website and a social media presence, posting content to it, and keeping tabs on your analytics to see what sticks (and what doesn’t).
If you’re not seeing the growth you want in your online platforms, then collaborate. And don’t wait for these things to come to you– make the effort to branch out and explore your online possibilities that can grow your personal brand.